What kind of bread do you eat? What kind of bread do you at in your spiritual life? As I stop to consider things in my own life, I recognize that there are at least two kinds of spiritual bread: life and strife. It is not hard to spot the folks in the life of the Church who eat the bread that gives life and those who eat the bread that brings strife. You can see such things in the life of the Church of Thessalonica.
There are Christians who are busy, doing what they need to do in terms of life: working, marriage, raising a family and so on. And then there is a group that has heard that someone is teaching that Jesus has come back and they are missing him, so they stop working and become a burden to the people around them because they expect to be going heavenward any moment now. They fear not making it to heaven and getting out of here.
The basic message of the Thessalonian letters is to remember that it is God who keeps you. God keeps you blameless until the day of Judgement (because you have been justified by faith in Christ). God calls you and through his call on your life - he sustains you. He gives you his life. And we would do well to remember that God is faithful to keep his word though he will do it in his own way and in his own time. God’s ways are not ours and his speed is not necessarily ready warp speed. This means that we need to learn to be patient and remain steadfast because God is working all things out for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
What do we do to live in a steadfast manner? Here are some things that the Letters indicate to us that we need to be doing:
- . Encourage and build up one another in love as people and in the work that is ongoing in the life of the Church.
- There needs to be respect for the leaders of the Church. They are worthy of the Church’s respect because they serve God and the people of God, honouring them both by their service.
- Be patient with those who are struggling and have compassion for those who are in pain and suffering within the Church. The world sees how we treat our own. It is part of our witness.
- We must warn the idle in the faith that Jesus is coming; strengthen the fearful, assist the weak and the young believers in the faith.
- Make sure that there is no retaliation for wrongs and to strive to be kind to every believer and to those who are outside of the community of faith.
- Choose to always be joyful – a person of hope. Pray unceasingly not just in words but also in actions and in attitude.
- In every circumstance, give thanks to God so that God remains in focus and you keep moving towards God and the kingdom.
- Keep looking up into the eyes of the Master.
It has been my experience that as we do the things that we need to do that we do not have to worry as much about not doing the don’ts. Worried about missing out? Do what is being asked of you and as you do, wait with anticipation. God will sustain and grace you with his life as he draws you into the kingdom. He is the bread of our lives.